February is Black History Month. This observance originated with American historian Carter G. Woodson, who launched Negro History Week in February of 1926, and has been celebrated annually as a month-long tribute since 1976 when President Gerald Ford called upon the public to honor the accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout history.
Here at the library, we encourage our readers to learn more about the contributions African Americans have made in all areas of the United States’ growth, and to read books (historical and modern) written by African American authors.
Knowledge and understanding about African Americans and their experience can be found through these newly-released non-fiction titles: Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African Americans, 1619-2019 edited by Ibram X. Kendi, Time To Teach: A History of the Southern Civil Rights Movement by Julian Bond, and this young reader title, Timelines From Black History, Leaders, Legends, Legacies by DK and Marielle Harper.
African American author Ralph Ellison addresses many social and intellectual issues facing Black Americans in the early twentieth century in his 1952 novel Invisible Man, while Octavia Butler’s still widely-popular 1979 novel Kindred explores the themes of race, power, and gender, incorporating writing that is modeled on slave narratives.
Angie Thomas gives young adult to adult readers several must-read titles that explore powerful and hard-hitting messages aimed to give readers a better understanding of the very real issues that African Americans face in her books The Hate U Give, Concrete Rose, and On the Come Up. Tiffany D. Jackson tackles several tough topics with care and thoughtfulness in her novel Grown, while Justina Ireland creates an alternate-history explosion with her titles Dread Nation and Deathless Divide, taking readers to 1800s America.
Early readers can gain exposure to stories about the lives of African Americans through colorfully illustrated picture books like Jump at the Sun by Alicia D. Williams, Emmanuel’s Dream by Jason Reynolds, Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine, and If a Bus Could Talk by Faith Ringgold, all inspiring true stories of real people based on real-life events.
All of these titles and more are available at the library or through our eReader apps and can be read this February, Black History Month, and all year round.